Tiffany N. Williams is a thirty-something doing thirty-something things in New York City, to include, but not limited to, brunching, day partying, being on the scene (well, napping... same thing), teaching undergrads the intricacies of human resources, and fighting for our black and brown youth.
You can find her on all the social medias as @mstwill and can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find her short-story series, "Incidentally," exclusively here, at The Southern District.
It happened. I saw his smile again and it was as perfect as I had remembered.
I had landed in Florida a few hours before. I was still adjusting to the heat when I decided to go to the store for some sweet tea. It felt so good to be home, even if only for a few days. I needed an excuse to get away from the City, sometimes it was just too much, and visiting my sorority sister who had just had a baby was the perfect excuse. I was planning on reconnecting with my sorority sister, cuddling with the baby, and disconnecting from everything else.
I was wandering through the aisles of the grocery store, marveling at the low prices and the space. I had forgotten how much more space there was in Florida - space to park your car, to move past someone in the cereal aisle, and space to breathe. As I bent down to grab some banana pudding I heard a familiar laugh. I couldn’t quite place who it belonged to at first but then I realized... it was my friend, well, former friend. I had a choice to make, I could be a coward and run or I could... what... go say “Hey, so good to see you. Remember when I destroyed our friendship by being a terrible person?” It was obvious what I had to do - I had to run.
I had barely made it away from the deli counter when I heard his laugh again. I couldn’t escape it. I had to look. I had to just see his face, see his smile. Maybe he wouldn’t even notice me. As I turned around I nervously twisted my new ring. It had been just over a month since my boyfriend proposed but I was still getting used to the weight of it. Something about it felt heavy and restrictive but I was sure I’d get used to it... eventually.
Everything faded and I only saw him, remembering the days before I lost him. He looked so happy. I was staring, as if I would never see him again. The sight of his smile... that smile... nothing else mattered. So it took me a minute to see her. She had made him laugh, I could tell by the way he was gently touching her shoulder and looking at her. He used to look at me like that.
They walked right by me. As if none of it had ever happened. As if the day we met in Florida so many years prior was just a dream. As if our friendship, our love, that night in New York so many months ago... none of it was real. But it was real, he was still my person. He always would be, I would just never have him again. I like to think that he saw me but thought it too painful to talk but I know that’s not true. He couldn’t see past the reason for his smile... her. I hope she deserves him.